Prefix And Suffix

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What Are Prefix And Suffix?

A prefix is a letter or a group of letters placed before a word to modify the word's original meaning. In the word 'Prefix', 'pre' stands for 'before'. Hence it remains attached before a word to change its original meaning. For example, in the word 'impatient’, ‘patient’ is the original word. The prefix is 'im'. Together they form the word impatient, which means the opposite of patient. Hence, a prefix modifies a word to make it mean the complete opposite of what it originally stood for. A suffix is a letter, or a group of letters joined at the end of a word to modify the way that word fits in a sentence grammatically. For example, in the word 'walked', the suffix is 'ed,' which, when added to the main word walk, changes the verb's tense from present indefinite to simple past tense.


New Word Creation With Prefix And Suffix

Through the use of prefixes and suffixes, a new word with a new meaning is created. Some prefixes are created from words we use very frequently in modern times. For example, electronic mail is converted to email where 'e' is the prefix, which modifies the main word 'mail.' The 'e' is a recently added prefix.

It is vital to understand what various prefixes mean since the prefix can help us understand the meanings of many words they may be used in. However, a prefix may have more than one meaning. Some words use only a particular meaning of the same prefix.

For example, the letters 'im' is a prefix that can mean two things- 'not' or 'into'. The word 'impersonal' means something that is not personal. Hence, 'im' here means 'not.' In the word 'import,' the prefix 'im' stands for 'into.'

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A single word may contain one prefix and one suffix. For example, in the word 'unwittingly', 'un' is the prefix, witting is the main word, and 'ly' is the suffix.


Prefixes Originating From Latin

Like many words in English, many prefixes have originated from Latin. Like all other prefixes, it is essential to know the meaning of the prefix to understand the meaning of the word.

For example- the prefix 'trans' has originated from Latin, and it is very versatile. It can mean across, over, beyond, like in the word transcontinental. It is also used in chemistry to denote distance, like in the word transition. It is also used to denote the sex of a person when the assigned sex does not match the sex they identify with, like in the word transgender. 

Another prefix which has its roots in Latin is 'sub'. It can also be used to mean different things in different words. It can be used to mean under, below, secondary, or subordinate, like in words subjugate, submerge, etc. It is also used in chemistry and sciences like in the word subtract.


Prefixes Originating From Greek

Apart from Latin, many prefixes have originated from Greek. The prefixes that originate from Greek are generally used in sciences. For example, the prefix 'di' comes from Greek, and it means the double of something or two. It is used in the naming of various compound words in chemistry, like disulfide, dioxide, etc.

Another Greek originated prefix may be cited as the prefix 'hyper.' It is used to describe something abundant or exaggerated. It is also used in sciences, like, hyperbole, hyperactive, etc.


Solved Examples

Q1. What are the most commonly used Science and Grammatical Prefixes?

Ans. A table of the most commonly used prefixes in the sciences is given below.

Prefixes

Meaning

Examples

Epi

Up, Upon, Over

Epicenter, Epinephrine 

Para

Beside, Partially 

Para-Science

Hetero

Different

Heterosexual

Sub

Below

Subatomic 

Iso

Same, Equal

Isolateral 

Mono 

Singular

Monoatomic 

Hypo

Deficient

Hypothyroidism 

Hyper

Excess

Hyperactive 

Peri

Around

Periphery 


Grammatical Prefixes

Prefixes

Meaning 

Example 

Inter

In Between

Interjection 

Ex

Without, Out of

Ex-Wife, Ex-Husband 

Un

Opposite of the Root Word

Unprofessional

Mis

Mistaken, Wrong

Mismatch 

Co

Together, Mutually

Co-Pilot

Fore

Before 

Forefather 

Pre

Before

Prelude 


Did You Know?

Some specific prefixes are used for the metric system. They are used to describe a part of a number or the unit of a number in terms of its weight, size, mass, distance, etc.

Prefixes

Meaning 

Number 

Example 

Nano

A Factor of One Billionth

0.000000001

Nanometer 

Milli

A Factor of One Thousandth

0.001

Millimeter 

Centi

A Factor of One Hundredth 

0.01

Centimeter

Kilo

Multiplication of One Thousand

1000

Kilogram 

Mega

One Million Units

1000000

Megapixel 

Giga

A Factor of a Billion

1000000000

Gigahertz 

Tera

One Trillion Units

1000000000000

Terawatt

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Prefixes?

Prefixes are a group of words that do not mean anything on their own. When added before a word, they modify the meaning of the word to change the meaning of the word entirely. Many prefixes have originated from different languages. For example- the prefix 'trans' has originated from Latin, and it is used to describe something different, like in the word transgender. The prefix 'hyper' has originated from Greek, meaning extra or exaggerated, like in the word hyperactive. The prefix 'for' has originated from Scandinavian languages. It describes something that ends up being worse than it originally was, like in the word forebear.

2. How Do Suffixes Modify a Word?

Suffixes are a group of letters just like prefixes. They are placed at the end of a word to modify the meaning of the word grammatically. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs all use suffixes. They are not as diverse as prefixes. A table of the commonly used suffixes is given below.

Suffix

Meaning

Example

S, Es

More Than One, Multiple

Papers, Reaches, Apples, Places, Ants

Ed

Past Tense, Quality, State

Walked, Cleaned, Jumped, Laughed, Looking

Ing

Present Continuous Tense, State

Walking, Running,  Cycling, Crying, Dancing

Ly

How, Changes to Adverb

Safely, Warmly, Strongly, Happily

Able, Ible

Able to Be

Reversible, Liable, Responsible